So you’ve calculated you’re macros, you’ve learned all about flexible dieting or IIFYM, and you’ve downloaded and are ready to use My Fitness Pal to log your macros. Great! But now you’re thinking, “what the heck am I supposed to eat?!”
With most “diet” plans, there is usually a specific type of meal plan completely laid out for you. You eat this for breakfast, this for lunch, and this for dinner, followed by one or two snacks. You MUST eat tilapia and asparagus, chicken and broccoli, and oatmeal and a protein shake. Do not stray from this plan or you will not see results.
With flexible dieting, nothing is off limits. You can eat Oreos, and Poptarts, and doughnuts, and Lucky Charms whenever you want, as long as it fits your macros for the day.
But let’s be realistic for a minute, and shout out to those people who thing IIFYM = If It Fits Your Mouth.
If you have a prescribed number of 150 grams of protein each day, you’re definitely not going to hit that by eating Oreos and Poptarts all day. You’ll most definitely go over your carb and fat content if that’s what you eat all day for every meal. IT JUST WON’T FIT. Everyone who follows flexible dieting knows that you have to eat the whole foods as well as the goodies in order to meet your macros and maintain that balance.
So to be realistic about IIFYM, here is a break down of things that will help you hit your macros, yet will give you some wiggle room to enjoy those treats whenever you want.
Fat Free Mozzarella
0% Fat Greek Yogurt
Pork Chops (higher fat content)
Light Wheat Bread
Vegetables (high fiber ones; broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus)
Those above are some of the “whole foods” one can eat when using flexible dieting. Those main foods above are what I normally use to at least hit my protein intake for the day. Lots of lean meats, egg whites, and greek yogurt. Unfortunately for me, it’s not all Poptarts and Oreos all the time.
Another big thing about flexible dieting is that you MUST be precise on your tracking and your food intake. This means measuring all foods either in measuring cups or more accurately with a food scale. In the beginning, this seems very daunting, but after a few days you catch on and it becomes second nature. My husband doesn’t even notice now when I whip out the scale before dinner to weigh my portions. He’d probably be more surprised if I didn’t!
BUT, with flexible dieting, after I have filled my macros up (mainly my protien and fiber intake), I let loose a little bit and have my goodies throughout the day.
For example, let’s take a look at a sample day for me:
Whey protein shake and 1 poptart (not 2, just one because that’s all that fits for me)
39 g Oatmeal, 1 scoop of Whey, and 18 g Nutella
1 cup egg whites, 1.75 oz ham, 1 slice of cheese, 2 pieces of light wheat toast, and 0.25 tbsp butter
4 ounces of chicken breast and 1 cup broccoli
3 Low Fat mozerella string cheese, 1 ounce of pretzels
1 cup low fat ice cream, 0.5 oz brownie brittle
TOTAL FOR THE DAY:
– – – – –
Honestly, this is a legitimate day for me and what I might eat. As you can see, I still eat the whole foods (egg whites, chicken, oatmeal, broccoli), but I still make sure I have room for some fun treats. I always have a poptart as a pre-workout. I’m taking every single day. Do I ever feel guilty about it? Nope, not one bit.
So flexible dieting is really all about what you make of it. If you don’t like processed food, then don’t eat processed food and stick to the whole foods. If you want a treat every now and then, work it in and make it fit. But yes, you do have to measure and weigh most of your foods until you are more comfortable with portion sizes.
The biggest thing with flexible dieting is that you can go out to eat essentially stress free. If you know you’re going to your favorite burger restaurant, and once you’ve been tracking for a while you’ll know the macro content of things in your head, you’ll learn that not super lean beef has a lot of fat in it. But if you want to splurge and enjoy yourself at the restaurant, YOU CAN! Just make it fit and eat less fat at other times! I do this often with Chipotle, as I like to eat a bowl with rice and also a half a bag of chips, which has a large number of carbs. But it’s totally worth it.
Also, with flexible dieting, GET CREATIVE. Don’t eat the same foods everyday if you don’t want to! I make a lot of my lean meats in the crock pot (which I hope to share soon) so that I have them for the whole week. I also cut portion sizes of things in half to make it fit (like the Nutella and the poptarts). I might not be able to make an entire serving fit, but I know I can make a half or 3/4 of a serving fit in there.
So be creative. The options are endless. And trust me: YOU WILL GET BETTER AND MORE EFFICIENT AT TRACKING AS TIME GOES ON. When I first started tracking it took me almost 30 minutes to figure out how to hit my macros. Now I can do it in less than 5 minutes and often times I can do it in my head. I don’t really see food anymore, I see protein, fat, and carbs.
One more thing, don’t worry about the calorie total on My Fitness Pal when tracking macros. Some of the calories are put into the database incorrectly, but the macros are usually right. Just try to hit your macros instead of worrying about hitting calories.
Any questions, I’ll be at firstname.lastname@example.org!